The global pandemic brought film sets around the world to a standstill, plunging the entertainment industry into chaos.
Whilst 2019 was a bumper year that saw filmmakers opting to shoot in Scotland, including high-ticket productions such as the Fast and the Furious 9 and 'Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,' like many other industries, Scotland's thriving film sector had to wait out the pandemic.
Due to Scotland's diverse landscapes, cityscapes, coastlines and historic architecture, the film industry in the Edinburgh city region alone, generated over £14 million in 2019.
Now, as the entertainment industry slowly regains its strength, Scotland is prioritizing health and safety.
With filming in Scotland on the rise, and shows like 'Good Omens', rumoured to be filming season 2 in Scotland in 2022, Screen Scotland's Louise Harris says the industry is already showing great signs of recovery.
Business is booming in Scotland. Our enhanced film and tv funds, world-renowned talent, crews, studios, facilities and locations continue to bring unprecedented international interest in Scotland as a filming destination. Production Spend Figures have risen to the highest since records began and over the past decade, spend has increased more than 300%. "Thankfully," adds Louise, "2021 is proving to be a much better year for production, both in film and tv."
Covid Training is the Film Industry’s ‘New Normal’
Additional health and safety measures, such as training Covid-19 officers and quarantine guidelines for positive cases have made film production more expensive. Louise explains that, despite this, enquiries are still coming in from other parts of the UK, the US, India, and Europe and that Scotland, as a film location destination, remains competitive. "Covid costs are fairly standard across the UK, so don’t affect how competitive Scotland is compared to England, Wales or N Ireland. Scotland has never been busier with productions filming on location and basing themselves here."
In coordination with Scotland's national response to Covid-19, various industry bodies; the British Film Commission, PACT, BECTU and other major UK broadcasters have come together to produce comprehensive guidance on how to work safely on film and TV productions. This guidance has been updated throughout the pandemic to reflect changes in legislation as they happen and is an excellent source of information on how to introduce best practice on set.
Amongst the measures the guidance recommends are: appointing a specially trained Covid 19 Health & Safety Officer to the production, social distancing, remote working (when possible), minimising number of crew on set at any one time, enhanced hygiene, symptom checks, testing regimes.
The guidance also encourages all cast and crew to undergo Covid 19 awareness training, such as the free online training offered by ScreenSkills. David Taylor is an independent film location specialist and trained Covid-19 supervisor based in South Lanarkshire. He believes Scotland's film and television production industry has so far adapted well to the new normal.
"Things are not too different to the normal,'' explains David, "Obviously you put in social distancing, and everything to do with keeping crews safe. I can say Scotland's film and tv sector has certainly been leading the way in terms of introducing protocols to mitigate Covid-19."
For more news and updates about Scotland's creative industries check out Creative Scotland.